Likely relegated to the "They were pretty good weren't they?" corner of your cerebral rolodex, The Notwist, a group you probably didn't even know was gone, has returned with "Neon Golden," which will do much to improve their profile. Having constantly shifted their style since the earliest releases in the early '90s, this German group generated a brief buzz while on that train wreck of an indie label, Zero Hour. But it's been four years since the last U.S. release -- "Shrink" -- and it's quite possible that every minute of that time was spent crafting the elegance that is "Neon Golden." Well, the members of The Notwist remain quite busy with side projects and remix work, so perhaps not every minute. Reconfiguring indie conventions within a thoroughly modern context, The Notwist evoke a cool, pastoral futurism on an album that's as Nick Drake as it is Microstoria. The group takes clear cues from Joe Boyd's production work with Drake, employing a chamber-music spaciousness to their arrangements of sequence-driven pop. Lazily delivered hooks that demand attention are anchored by a mellifluous melancholy that's as intricately digital as it is delicately human. Managing to blithely produce such earth-bound ethereality is a neat trick, and "Neon Golden" is evidence of a group that's obviously unwilling to be shackled by convention. Maybe now we'll remember their name.
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